torstai 20. kesäkuuta 2019

Saga tournament - tactics analyzed

Not your typical Battle Report 

I ran a small one day Saga Tournament (Age of Crusades) last Sunday 
with three games and 4 players. Saga is a good game for tournament playing and
couple of us are preparing / trying to qualify for Saga World Cup, to be played in London
in August this year.
 In this blogpost you won't find a typical battle report, but rather an analysis how did we fare tactically in our games.

Pagan Peoples go to war

I've peen slowly painting (many projects ongoing) a Pagan Peoples Warband for Sagaa and had 
played some 3-4 games with it before the tournament. For the tournament I managed to finalize my Warlord (the shaman looking fella, Grippingbeast) and his entourage of mounted Hearthguards (Bad Squiddo Games)

My Warband

Tournament was played with 5 point warbands, chosen from a 6 points roster. Players also had the opportunity to sacrifice 2 tournament points to play with a 6 point warband. 

In addition to my mounted WL, my roster was like this
  • 2 X 6 Hearthguard, either mounted with javelins or with great weapons
  • 10 warriors with bows
  • 6 warriors
  • 12 levies with javelins
Levies were fielded only in my game against Matti, where I played with 6 points.

Warband building tactics

My warband is based on a tactic of early game hit & runs with javelin throwing mounted HG and the WL - using one of the best shooting boosting abilities in the game:

This will get better the more fatigue the enemy has. Already several times I've used it to take out an enemy Warlord fatigued from using his resilience in a melee. Combining Laima with Taara Avita, makes my javelin attacks totally devastating; an example: 6 mounted HG have 6 shooting attacks + 2 from TA and +2 from Laima, thats already 10 shooting attacks. Should the target unit have fatigue, 
So when the enemy get's annoyed by my hit & run tactics, they will push forward with some fighting units, then they come to the range of my 10 warrior archers, whom join in on whitling down enemy units before engaging in a melee. Then once I've shot enough of them, my WL typically charges in with his HG bodyguards hanging near. If my WL doesn't finish the enemy unit, I'll throw in the mounted HG to finish the job. At this point the enemy unit should have more F and less attacks then me. Add the +1 to hit from charging in with javelins and the outcome of the battle should look good. 
Further tricks: 
Should I need to take out an enemy missile unit hunkering in some cover (aka uneven terrain of sorts), I'll use MEZA MATE to teleport a unit of 6 warriors, or even 6 HG with great weapons into that same terrain piece and then charge in. Unit of 6 warriors will probably not destroy the enemy shooter unit, but it will render it's effectiveness down and leave it with a fatigue to use for additional protection against shooting.

So, with these tactics in mind I set out to test them out... let's see how they worked in practice.

First game: Clash of Warlords

My first battle was against Aleksis' Milites Christi with a large unit (8) of mounted HG, warrior cavalry, crossbowmen and excellent Turcopoles (mercenaries). In the deployment both sides deployed shooters in the woods in opposite corners of the battlefield. Aleksis added a warrior unit there too, to protect his xbows against Meza Mate. Aleksis chose to play with 6 points against my 5.

My Tactics:
  • Basic plan: as described above
  • Totally focus on enemy cavalry and ignore crossbows and warriors in the woods (and stay out of their range)
  • First aim to take out enemy mobile archers (turcopoles) to dominate shooting after that 

I started the game and galloped forward to the hill with one of my mounted HGs, unfortunately only managed to take out one turcopole. Then retreated behind the hill.
Enemy light cav then poured forward, totally leaving their crossbows behind...

So I had successfully lured the enemy cavalry forward and to the range of my archers. Combine missile barrage of arrows and javelins rapidly whittled down enemy light cavalry. To my surprise, even my bait unit  (HG cavalry with javelins) managed to survive for now! But I also made a mistake: my warlord had contributed his javelins to the barrage, but he was now within the reach of 8 men Milites Christi HG unit...

So the mighty HG unit charged forward  and soon dispatched my bait unit and then proceeded to charge my Warlord, whom barely managed to survive, but was exhausted. But still my plan was working: I had lost 6 HG in total, but Aleksis had lost 16 warriros and 4 HG. Most of the punch from his army was now gone and I was leading clearly with slaughter points.

So the game was already "in the bag", but the mistake of leaving my WL vulnerable cost me a tournament point as MC WL cut down my exhausted WL with ease. 

Luckily I was also able to take out the enemy WL and that finally guaranteed my victory.

Game two: Desecration

In my second game I faced our club's current Saga Champion Matti, whom had won the last three tournaments! I chose to play with 6 points, because I felt this game would decide the tournament victory! Matti plays with Ordenstaat, that is completely on foot! His tactics typically include 2 units of javelin tossing levies and then great hammers wielding HGs to slaughter anything that remains after the levies have done their work. 

For this battle (with 6 points) I added my 12 levies with javelins and swapped 6 mounted HG to great weapon wielding HGs. Scenario was Desecration from the book of battles, where objectives need to be destroyed, as otherwise they will create a gap on slaughter points.

Matti had 2 units of 12 javelin levies, unit of 8 HG with great weapons and tribal hunters mercenaries.

 I deployed a strong middle with all my WL, HG and levies, while my warriors took positions in the wood to the right,

One of the objectives to be desecrated, guarded by Ordenstaat levies

Matti started the game with an alpha strike and rushed his 8 HG to my levies. This seemed to be a very risky tactic, as they were now in the middle of my warband...

They didn't quite manage to finish the levies and were left standing with 2 fatigues...

My javelins didn't do too much  damage to them Ordenstaat elites, 
so I had to charge in with my similar HG


Game in the bag?

So Matti had taken a too big a risk and had now lost 2 points of HG, whileI had lost approximately 1 point in levies and in 1 HG model. He was almost ready to concede, but I wanted to play further. 
I was yet to destroy any objectives...

Killing them HGs has gotten me into a bloodlust and I then proceeded to kill the tribal hunter mercenaries with my mounted HG. I now had a sound lead in slaughterpoints, but Matti had managed to destroy one of the objectives and I had not... 

My warlord rushed behind the enemy lines and tried to take out and objective with his javelins, but failed. He did kill some enemy levies too, but as you can see, his javelins were quite spent at this point.

What remained of the Ordenstaat warband (2 Saga dice) fell back to protect their objectives and took out my warlord as well! I made some desperate moves to try to take out an objective, but to no avail. Hence my slaughter points were capped at 10 and I had lost the game!!!

Conclusions, game 2.

  • Killing was good, but failed to play the scenario
  • My Archers and the small warrior unit in the right didn't contribute enough to the game (except providing Saga dice, which is relevant too), my HG and WL were doing the heavy lifting and were also dwindled in the process
  • Matti played smart after the early disaster; he took out one objective and then defended my targets, with his WL doing most of the fighting

Game three: Change of plans

Third game was played against Marko, whom had played one game of Saga before the tournament, so this match was his 4th of Saga. Marko's warband (my miniatures) consisted of 2 X 4 mounted HG, 8 mounted warriors, 8 crossbow warriors and 8 basic warriors.

My army was back to it's basic compilation. Both armies deployed foot troops into woods, while cavalry formed in the middle. Marko's crossbows were a threat to my soft cavalry, so I made sure to deploy my forces clear from them. Marko made a mistake in deploying them too early and hence allowed me to avoid them.

Onslaught of crusaders!

Marko was the first player and he immediately sent two of his cavalry units forward and into a charge!

He had clearly decided to "cut the head off the snake" and his charges were directed against my Warlord, whom had the benefit of enemies coming in with a fatigue and the protection of his bodyguard close by... 

After several charges and melees, crusader alpha strike was no more and I had lost a one HG as a bodyguard to my WL, whom was a bit fatigued, but living! My archers peppered his cavalry and then my HG charged in and finished what remained of Marko's first HG unit. Marko's rash attempt was a clear mistake, he should have used his crossbows to first whittle down my cavalry and only then charge in. Another mistake was also to charge into my WL, whom was able to survive and at the same time dish out damage. His alpha strike could have crippled my cavalry badly. Now more than a third of his WB was gone, while my WB was almost intact. That was a piece meal school book example!

Rest of the game was really just mopping up; my tactics of combined arms swiftly took out the last of crusader cavalry. My mauled HG unit sacrificed themselves, but exhausted the enemy WL, while doing so...

And then it was easy for the other HG unit to pincushion the poor WL with javelins boosted with the amazing Laima -ability. Then Meza Mate happened and my six warriors teleported to the same woods as crusader xbows, whom they duly charged...

At this point (after three rounds I think) Marko's warband didn't generate any Saga dice and game ended.

Conclusions: Marko was a very inexperienced Saga player and the tournament was a "learning experience" for him. I think he lost this game already in the deployment (crossbows) and made defeat a certainty by trying to take out my WL in his alpha strike.

Tournament results 

Aleksis actually got two complete 4p. victories, but he spent both of his reinforcement points and was third. Me and Matti both took 8 points from our games, but I spent one of my reinforcement points. So it was tight once again, but Matti was laureled as the winner for the firth time in a row!

Besides the Trophy (on the table), that always passes to the next winner, 
Matti received a pack of aluminium foil branded SAGA! 

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